I recently opened a letter from a lady who said, “Thanks Dr. Falwell for your messages on MSNBC’s Rivera Live. My unchurched husband (he claims to be an agnostic) will not attend church or watch Christian television. But he watches you every week with Geraldo, and on all the other talk shows. He likes your biblical stand on the issues and he is planning a 500-mile trip to Lynchburg so we can visit your church. Dr. Falwell, you could never know what a miracle this is.”
As I read this letter, I thought, “My ‘messages’ on Rivera Live? This reader considers my statements on a secular talk show to be “messages.” I receive a large volume of snail-mail (USPS) and e-mail daily with similar encouraging words. Of course, I get other correspondence from folks who fiercely criticize my appearances on network shows. Therefore, I decided to explain why I feel these appearances are necessary for me to make.
For 25 years, I have been appearing on most of the major news and talk shows. From the now-defunct Phil Donahue show, to the brand new, hard-hitting programs on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNBC, media has been my niche.
It all started, of course, with the Old-Time Gospel Hour, my weekly church broadcast, over 43 years ago. This program is today the longest-running, uninterrupted, live church service on television. I doubt if many secular programs have a longer tenure.
When I first began appearing with Donahue and on other network news shows, some friends asked me if I were not “casting my pearls before swine.” They felt I was “dignifying the undignified” by participating in these venues.
That sent me to my knees. I then recalled, once again, the rationale behind my frequent media appearances. A quarter century ago, God gave me my instructions regarding taking the Christian worldview to the public square. After reading Acts 17 many years ago, a biblical passage which tells of the Apostle Paul’s debates with the many unbelieving philosophers on Mars Hill, I felt strongly led that I was to emulate Paul’s unique “public square” ministry and that my Mars Hill was the national media.
I accepted my calling as a Mars Hill minister to the media. I fully understand that very few indeed have this calling. But I do!
Four Reasons Why I Debate On Mars Hill
- I have a calling from God: I utilize the secular media because I feel a personal calling and Divine enablement to confront the culture. God has anointed me to be a Mars Hill minister. I am called to debate God’s Truth in the public square. My late mentor, Dr. Francis Schaeffer, gave me great encouragement in this regard. I promised the Lord in the beginning of my ministry that, if He would give me the platform, I would always attempt to give a clear gospel presentation, always in love, and would earnestly try to graciously present biblical principles.
- Everyone must hear the gospel: I utilize the secular media because I believe Christ died for all men and women, everywhere. Therefore, I believe the “greater public” must also hear the gospel. Most of them do not attend church or watch Sunday morning television. Accordingly, I feel I must go to them through secular, pagan, prime-time media.
- This is my prophetic ministry: I utilize the secular media to lift up a biblical standard against the broad forces of darkness. I strongly believe that Christians are the salt of the earth. We are the conscience of the culture. We are the restraining influence that prevents the corruption of society. If someone does not intelligently, firmly and lovingly take the biblical worldview to the masses, it is my fear that this nation will soon enter the post-Christian era as much of Europe already has.
- I am a missionary to the media: I average doing five-to-10 secular, and usually national, television and radio shows each week because I consider myself a missionary to the media. God has given me the favor and respect of most of the prominent media personalities of today, with whom I have regular contact.
The Lord has opened the door for me to provide pastoral counseling and ministry to several of them. These men and women are often under great pressure and have few intimate friends from whom they can get personal spiritual help. This is a very private and sensitive thing with me. I, of course, never discuss privately or publicly the details of this open door of ministry. But, it is important to me.
So, this is why I do the talk shows. I accept Acts 17:16-34 as my personal calling from the Lord to be a “Mars Hill” minister. You may not always agree with me. But I hope you believe that I am doing what I believe God wants me to do.
You can learn of my media appearances in advance by visiting my website at www.falwell.com.